Pres. Obama hopes to sell his State of the Union message during Baton Rouge visit

Pres. Obama hopes to sell his State of the Union message during Baton Rouge visit

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - President Barack Obama will spend the night in Louisiana before speaking at a Baton Rouge school Thursday morning.

The president's visit to the state comes the same week that democrat John Bel Edwards took the oath as governor in a solidly red state and one day after Edwards signed his first executive order which allows the state to expand the number of people eligible for the government funded Medicaid health insurance.

Obama is expected to talk about his plan for helping more Americans move forward during his last year in office and other themes of this State of the Union address, along with Medicaid expansion in Louisiana, as well as gains in the state's employment rate, and education.
"We're in the middle of the longest streak of private sector job creation in history," Obama said during the Tuesday night address to a joint session of the Congress and the American people.

But leaders of the state Republican Party take issue with the progress the president is touting.

"I think it's great that he's going to communicate with our new leadership in the state of Louisiana. I don't see the progress he's made to help average Americans. I'm in a small business, our small business is struggling like so many other ones around the state," said Roger Villere, Chair of the Louisiana Republican Party.

State government revenues remain in a free-fall given the persistently low oil prices. The state's economy is heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry.

Gov. Edwards looks forward to face-to-face discussions with the president and he said ways the federal government can help to make sure Medicaid expansion is accomplished in Louisiana by July, will be among the topics.

Former governor Bobby Jindal refused to expand Medicaid eligibility because he believed the state would face higher expenses in coming years.

Through 2016 the federal government will pay 100-percent of the costs for the additional recipients, and no less than 90-percent in future years.

"Certainly a topic of discussion as he and I visit," said Gov. Edwards.

Congressman Cedric Richmond said Jindal said no to federal dollars too many times in federal funds in a state with financial crises.

"From sending money down to expand broadband that was turned down, sending money down that could have done the high speed rail that was turned down, and I think that the president wants to talk to this governor and I think that this governor wants to talk to this president because we need resources here."

But Villere, who along with other top Louisiana GOP leaders is in South Carolina for a RNC meeting and the GOP presidential candidates debate disagrees.

"You create a few jobs when you open up the rails and put a few things, but in the long run it's a boondoggle, it's going to cost us tens of millions of dollars," he said of the dollars for the rail proposals.

Now the new governor gets to directly ask the president who shares the same political party with him for help.

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